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Over the past few days I have been working on setting up Vagrant for a project of mine. Our team works on many projects and we are in the process of rolling out a new template to over 22 of them. We have some new designers that are tasked with converting these projects, so I thought it would be great to get Vagrant set up so that all they would have to do is vagrant up to get the project up and running.

I created a vagrant machine with PuPHPet using ubuntu and PHP 5.4, and everything seemed to be working great. Then I tried to log in and got this error:

Unable to connect to ssl://*****:443. Error: stream_socket_client(): unable to connect to ssl://*****:443 (Unknown error) stream_socket_client(): Failed to enable crypto stream_socket_client(): SSL operation failed with code 1. OpenSSL Error messages: error:14090086:SSL routines:SSL3_GET_SERVER_CERTIFICATE:certificate verify failed

It was working just fine on my MAC, so why am I getting this error now? After much delving, I found that it was an issue with PHP, openssl and Debian/Ubuntu systems.

It boils down to this: On Debian/Ubuntu systems, openssl does not know where to look for certificates to verify the connection by default. You have to manually specify the directory with the capath option.

The means that code like this will fail:

$fh = fopen('', 'r', false, stream_context_create(array(
    'http' => array(
        'method' => 'GET',
        'header' => "Accept: application/json\r\nContent-type: application/json\r\n",
        'ignore_errors' => true,
    'ssl' => array('verify_peer' => true)

and code like this will pass:

$fh = fopen('', 'r', false, stream_context_create(array(
    'http' => array(
        'method' => 'GET',
        'header' => "Accept: application/json\r\nContent-type: application/json\r\n",
        'ignore_errors' => true,
    'ssl' => array(
        'verify_peer' => true,
        'capath' => '/etc/ssl/certs'

Because the capath might be different depending on what operating system you are using, its not a good idea to hard code this in a library. It also looks like this will be fixed in PHP 5.6 (source)

I was using a library called simpleCAS to authenticate users. The library uses the PEAR library HTTP_Request2 to send HTTP requests. HTTP_Request2 by default uses a PHP socket to make these requests. Rather than hard coding a capath I decided it would be better to just use curl, which include a capath by default.

So now my simpleCAS code looks like:

$options = array(
    'hostname' => '*****',
    'port' => 443,
    'uri' => 'cas'

$protocol = new \SimpleCAS_Protocol_Version2($options);

$request = new \HTTP_Request2();
$request->setConfig('adapter', 'HTTP_Request2_Adapter_Curl');

$client = \SimpleCAS::client($protocol);

If anyone knows of a better fix, let me know!


While investigating this problem, I discovered the following interesting things.

To use openssl to verify a connection:

openssl s_client -connect -CApath /etc/ssl/certs

This fails if you do not specify a CApath

openssl s_client -connect

Interestingly enough, it passes if you include a bogus CApath. Which implies that openssl will only include the default CApath if you specify ANY CApath

openssl s_client -connect -CApath bogus

To find out where your openssl configuration file is you can look at the output of strace and search for .cnf

strace -o out.txt openssl s_client -connect
cat out.txt | grep ".cnf"

To find the default install path for openssl, use

openssl version -d

This will output something like /usr/lib/ssl. The certs directory for capath would be /usr/lib/ssl/certs. On my ubuntu install, /usr/lib/ssl/certs was a symlink for /etc/ssl/certs


First posted on 23 January 2014